On Monday Reel-Time.com posted my most recent blog AND WE CONTINUE DOWN THAT ROAD, about the massive amount of recreational mortality occurring right now on a declining striped bass population. Striped bass are particularly vulnerable right now for a number of reasons. A current problem, manifesting itself along the coast of Long Island, NY right now, is that what used to be a widely distributed body of fish in the fall has now been reduced to short-lived but intense concentrations of fish showing up in very specific geographic locations. Because of smart-phones and of course the internet, people are finding out about such concentrations of fish quickly, and are hammering them, from party and private boats… Both inside and yes, judging from what I’ve witnessed on a number of occasions, outside the three mile limit.
I opened the blog with a real example of what I witnessed last Thursday. Yes there were people fishing outside of 3 miles. But I was very specific that while such a lack of sanctuary for the striped bass was an issue, it is a very small part of a larger issue, which was overall recreational mortality on these contracted bodies of fish. If you could have made it past the second paragraph you would have known that.
Unfortunately, the heading of the Blog read “Fishing for Striped Bass in the EEZ is illegal under federal law, but unfortunately, it is in many areas, under or even not, enforced.” While this was not the overall intent of the blog, the photo attached to the story, which was circulated far and wide before it showed up on Reel-Time, with the heading, seemed to imply that these fish were caught in the EEZ. Yes, the photo was offensive, to me as well as a lot of others… Reminiscent of the old Hither Hill Haul Seine photos that angered so many people back in the 90’s. But there was nothing blatantly illegal going on in that photo. According to people on that boat when such photo was taken, they were not in the EEZ, and I did not mean to imply in the blog that they were.
I was clear in my blog that the larger issue was simply recreational fishing mortality during such specific geographic occurrences of abundance. I was also clear that however annoyed I got at such photos, or the general amount of fishing mortality out there, I don’t blame the people killing fish, or the owners/captains of such party boats. For the most part they are only doing what’s allowed by law. Where change needs to occur is on the management level at the ASMFC, where we desperately need a reduction in fishing mortality. I hope this sets the record straight.
Editors Note – Mark Cahill: I added the summary and the title. Mea culpa. The summary was created from the first couple paragraphs of the article. While the statement is true, it isn’t completely representative of the entire article. I have no idea if the fish in the image came from inside or outside the EEZ. They could have come from Mars…however, in a time of decreasing striper stocks, it should remind us all of the importance of conserving the fishery.